The Automobile Storage Battery - Its Care And Repair
by O. A. Witte
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Radio receiving sets may be divided into two general classes, the "Crystal" sets and the "Bulb" sets. "Crystal" sets use crystals of galena (lead sulphide), silicon (a crystalline form of silicon, one of the chemical elements), or carborundum (carbide of silicon) to "detect" or, in other words, to rectify the incoming radio waves so that they may be translated into sound by the telephone receivers. Receiving sets using these crystals do not use a battery, but these sets are not very sensitive, and cannot "pick up" weak waves. This means that crystal receiving sets must be used near the broadcasting stations, before the waves have been weakened by traveling any considerable distance.

As a general rule, the radio-listener's first receiving set uses a crystal detector. Very often it is difficult to obtain good results with such a set, and a more elaborate set is obtained. Moreover, even if a crystal set does give good results, the owner of such a set soon hears of friends who are able to hear concerts sent out from distance stations. This gives him the desire to be able to hear such stations also and he then buys a receiving set which uses the "audion-bulb" for detecting, or rectifying the incoming waves.

The audion-bulb resembles an ordinary incandescent lamp. It contains three elements:

1. In the center of the bulb is a short tungsten filament, the ends of which are brought out to two terminals in the base of the bulb. This filament must be heated to incandescence, and a storage battery is required for this purpose, because it is necessary to have a very steady current in order to obtain clear sounds in the receiver. Lately plans have been suggested for using a direct current lighting line, and even an alternating current lighting line for heating the filament, but at present such plans have not been perfected, and the battery will undoubtedly continue to be used with the majority of sets.

2. Surrounding the filament but not touching it is a helix of wire, only one end of which is brought out to a terminal in the base of the bulb. This helix is called the "grid." In some bulbs the grid is not made in the form of a helix, but is made of two flat gridlike structures, one on each side of the filament.

3. Surrounding the "grid" is the "plate" which is sometimes in the shape of a hollow metallic cylinder. Some plates are not round, but may be oval, or they may be two flat plates joined together at some point, and one placed on either side of the grid. The plate has one terminal in the base of the bulb.

[Fig. 159 Illustrating the principle of the Audion Bulb]

The action of an audion-bulb is quite complex, but a simpler explanation, though one which may not be exactly correct from a purely technical point of view, is as follows, referring to Figure 159:

The "A" battery heats the filament, causing a stream of electrically charged particles to flow out from the filament in all directions. These electrons act as a conductor, and close the circuit which consists of the plate, the "B" battery, and the telephone receivers, one end of this circuit being connected to one side of the filament circuit. Current then flows from the positive terminal of the "B" battery to the plate, then to the filament by means of the stream of electrons emitted by the filament, along one side of the filament, through the wire connected to the positive terminal of the "A" battery to the telephone receivers, through the receivers to the negative terminal of the "B" battery.

As long as the filament remains lighted a steady current flows through the above circuit. The "grid" is connected to the aerial wire to intercept the radio waves. These waves produce varying electrical charges on the grid. Since the stream of charged particles emitted by the filament must pass through the grid to reach the plate, the charges which the radio waves produce on the grid strengthen or weaken the stream of electrons emitted by the filament, and thus vary the current flowing in the telephone receiver circuit. The changes in this current cause the receiver diaphragm to vibrate, the vibrations causing sounds to be heard. Since the variation in the telephone receiver circuit is caused by electrical charges produced by the radio waves, and since the radio waves change according to the sounds made at the transmitting station, the variations in the telephone receiver current produces the same sounds that are sent out at the transmitting station. In this way concerts, speeches, etc., are reproduced in the receivers.

The modern radio receiving set includes various devices, such as variable condensers, variocouplers, loose-couplers, variometers, the purpose of which is to "tune" or adjust the receiving set to be capable of receiving the radio waves. An explanation of such devices is not within the scope of this book, but there are numerous reasonably priced books and pamphlets on the market which describes in a simple manner all the component parts of a radio-receiving set.

From the foregoing remarks it is seen that a six-volt storage battery is required with each receiving set which uses the audionbulb type detector. The filament current of an audion-bulb averages about one ampere. If additional bulbs are used to obtain louder sounds, each such bulb also draws one ampere from the storage battery. The standard audion-bulb receiving set does not use more than three bulbs, and hence the maximum current drawn from the battery does not exceed three amperes.

The automobile battery manufacturers have built special radio batteries which have thick plates and thick separators to give longer life. The thick plates are much stronger and more durable than the thin plates used in starting and lighting work, but do not have the heavy current capacity that the starting and lighting battery plates have. A high current capacity is, of course, not necessary for radio work, and hence thick plates are used.

Batteries used for radio work do not operate under the severe conditions which exist on automobiles, and trouble is much less likely to develop. However, the owner of the radio set rarely has any means of keeping his battery charged, and his battery gradually discharges and must then be recharged. It is in the sale of batteries for radio work and in the recharging of them that the battery man can "cash-in" on the radio phone "craze."

This business rightfully belongs to the automobile battery man and he should go after it as hard as he can. A little advertising by the service station man, stating that he sells radio batteries, and also recharges them should bring in: very profitable business. The battery man who calls for and delivers the radio batteries which need recharging and leaves rental batteries in their place so that there is no interruption in the reception of the evening concerts is the one who will get the business.

As already stated, radio storage batteries have thick plates and thick separators. Perforated rubber sheets are also used in addition to the separators. Large sediment spaces are also generally provided to allow a considerable amount of sediment to accumulate without causing short-circuits. The cases are made of wood or hard rubber. Since radio batteries are used in homes and are, therefore, used with handsomely finished cabinets containing the radio apparatus, the manufacturers give the cases of some of their radio batteries a pleasing varnished or mahogany finish. Before returning radio batteries which have been recharged, the entire batteries should be cleaned and the cases polished. Returning radio batteries in a dirty condition, when they were received clean, and polished, will drive the radio recharging business to some other service station.


The Vesta Battery Corporation manufacturers three special types of "A" batteries for radio work, as follows:

1. The 6EA battery, made in capacities of 60, 80, and 100 ampere hours. Fig. 160.

2. The V6EA7 battery, having a capacity of 80 ampere hours. Fig. 161.

3. The R6EA battery, having a capacity of 100 ampere hours. Fig. 162.

[Fig. 160, 161, 162, 163 Various Vesta Radio batteries]

Vesta Radio Batteries. Fig. 160 shows the 6EA Series, "A" Battery. Fig. 161 shows the V6EA Series, "A" Battery. Fig. 162 shows the R6EA (Rubber Case) Series, "A" Battery. Fig. 163 shows the "B" Battery.

These batteries have 5, 7, 9 plates per cell, respectively. The plates are each 5 inches high, 5 7/8 inches wide, and 5/32 inches thick. The cases for these batteries are furnished in three designs—plain black boxes (all sizes), finished maple boxes (7 plate size only), and hard rubber boxes (9 plate size only). These Vesta batteries are the "A" batteries used for heating the filaments of the audion bulbs. The Vesta Radio "B" battery, Fig. 163, is a 12 cell, 24 volt battery, with a 22 and a 20 volt tap.


[Fig. 164 Exide Radio "A" battery]

The Exide Radio "A" battery, Fig. 164, is made in four sizes, the capacities ranging from 20 to 120 ampere-hours. The design and construction of these batteries are similar to the Exide starting batteries. The over-all height of these batteries is approximately 95/8 inches, the width 7-5/16 inches, while the length varies with the number of the plates.

Type Cat. No. Length Weight Capacity ———— ———— ——— ——— ———— 3-LXL-3 13735 4-9/16 15-1/2 lbs. 20 amp. hrs. 3-LXL-5 13736 5-11/16 24-1/2 lbs. 40 amp. hrs. 3-LXL-9 13737 9-1/16 42-1/2 lbs. 80 amp. hrs. 3-LXL-13 13750 12-7/16 59-1/2 lbs. 120 amp. hrs.


The Willard Storage Battery Co. manufactures both "A" and "B" storage batteries. The Willard "A" battery, Fig. 165, is an all-rubber battery. The case is a rubber "Monobloc" construction, that is, the entire case is pressed into shape at one time. There are no separate jars for the cells, there being rubber partitions which form integral parts of the case. The case is, therefore, really a solid, one piece, three compartment jar. The ribs at the bottoms of the compartments are parts of the one-piece block, and are higher than those found in the usual starting and lighting battery. Embedded in each side wall of the case is a bronze button which holds the handle in place. Soft rubber gaskets of pure gum rubber surround the post to make an acid proof seal to prevent electrolyte from seeping from the cells. The separators are the standard Willard "Threaded Rubber" separators.

[Fig. 165, 166, and 167 Various Willard Radio Batteries]

Willard Radio Batteries. Fig. 165 shows the All-Rubber "A" Battery. Fig. 166 shows the complete "B" Battery. Fig. 167 shows one cell of the "B" Battery.

The Willard "A" battery comes in five sizes, type WRR97 (20 ampere hours capacity), type WRRO (50 ampere hours capacity), type WRR1 (89 ampere hours capacity), type WRR2 (100 ampere hours capacity), and type WRR3 (125 ampere hours capacity).

The Willard "B" storage battery, type CBR124, Figs. 166 and 167, is a twelve cell battery, each cell consisting of a round glass container having one negative and one positive plate insulated from each other by a small "Threaded Rubber" separator. The plates and separators rest on a hard rubber "bottom rest" which consists of a short length of hard rubber tube, so formed as to support the plates and separators and at the same time hold them together. The cells are assembled in a case which has a separate compartment for each cell. As seen from Fig, 166, the upper parts of the cells project above the top of the case, which simplifies inspection.


[Fig. 168 Westinghouse Radio "A" battery, Type HR]

[Fig. 169 Westinghouse Radio "B" battery, Type L, and Fig. 170 Westinghouse Radio "B" battery, Type M]

The Westinghouse Union Battery Co. manufactures both "A" and "B" storage batteries. Their "ER" type, Fig. 168, is the "A" battery, and their "L" and "M" types, Figs. 169 and 170, are the "B" batteries. The HR battery has 3/16 inch thick plates, high rests to provide ample mud and acid space, and thick separators. Rubber sheets are placed on both sides of the positive plates. Rubber covered cables are moulded into the terminals to minimize corrosion at the positive terminal. The "HR" batteries are made in six and eight volt sizes, with 3 plates per cell, 5 plates per cell, 9 plates per cell, and 13 plates per cell.

The Westinghouse Radio "B" batteries are made in two sizes. Type 22-M-2, Fig. 170, has a capacity of 1.2 ampere hours at 0.04 ampere. It is designed to operate a receiving set having one detector and two amplifier bulbs for three to five weeks between charges. The type 22-L-2 battery, Fig. 169, has a capacity of 4.5 ampere hours at 0.25 ampere.

Part No. Type Volts Amp. Hours at 3 Amps. Weight Intermittent Rate ———— —— ——- ——————————- ——— 100110 6-HR-5 6 54 A.H. 30 Lbs. 100111 6-HR-9 6 108 A.H. 46 Lbs. 100112 6-HR-13 6 162 A.H. 65 Lbs. 100135 8-HR-5 8 54 A.H. 40 Lbs. 100136 8-HR-9 8 108 A.H. 60 Lbs. 100137 8-HR-13 8 162 A.H. 87 Lbs. 100145 6-HR-3 6 27 A.H. 20 Lbs.

Part No. Type Volts Capacity Weight ———- ——— ——- ———— ——— 100148 22-M-2 22 1.2 A.H. at .04 Amps. 6-1/4 Lbs. 100140 2-L-2 22 1.2 A.H. at 25 Amps. 19-3/4 Lbs.


[Fig. 171 Philadelphia Radio "A" battery]

The Philadelphia Storage Battery Co. makes both "A" and "B" Radio batteries. The "A" battery, Fig. 171, uses the standard diamond-grid plates, and the "Philco Slotted Retainer" used in Philadelphia starting batteries. The cases of the "A" batteries are made of hardwood, finished in an ebonite black. Soft rubber insulating feet on the bottom of the case prevent scratching any table or varnished floor on which the battery may be set. The instructions for preparing the Philadelphia "A" battery for service are similar to those given for the starting and lighting batteries, given on page 228. For the initial filling, 1.220 electrolyte is used, and the battery charged at the following rates:

Initial and Recharge Charging Rate ————————————————— Type Initial Rate Recharge Rate —— —————— ——————- 56LAR 1.0 2 56RAR 2.0 3 76RAR 3.0 4.5 96RAR 4.0 6 116RAR 5.6 7.5 136RAR 6.0 9

The final gravity of the electrolyte should be 1.250. However, if the owner insists on getting maximum capacity, the battery may be filled with 1.250 electrolyte and balanced to 1.290 at the end of the charge.

[Fig. 172 Philadelphia Radio "B" battery]

The Philadelphia Radio "B" battery, type 224-RB, Fig. 172, has 12 cells contained in a one-piece rubber case. It is shipped dry, and requires no initial charge. To prepare it for service, the soft rubber vent caps are removed and 25 c. c. of 1.250 electrolyte poured into each cell.


[Fig. 173 U.S.L. Radio "A" battery]

The U. S. L. Radio "A" battery, Fig. 173, uses 1/4 inch positives, with 3/16 inch intermediate and 1/8 inch outside negatives. Port Orford cedar separators are used which are four times as thick as the usual starting battery separator. The case is made of hardwood, and is varnished to match cabinet work. The electrolyte has a specific gravity of 1.220. The heavy plates and separators and the low gravity of the electrolyte are designed to give long life.

Ampere Ampere Hour Plates Hour Capacity per Capacity (or intermittent Type Cell @ 3 Amperes use) Dimensions Weight —— —— —————- ———————— ————— ——— DXA-303-X 3 12 20 5-3/16 x 18 7-1/4 x 9-1/4 DXA-305-X 5 40 60 9-1/8 x 7-1/4 39 x 9-1/4 DXA-307-X 7 70 85 11-3/4 x 7-7/16 48 x 9-1/4 DXA-309-X 9 98 115 14-3/8 x 7-7/16 59 x 9-1/4


The Prest-O-Lite Co. makes two lines of Radio "A" Batteries. First, an inexpensive battery, Fig. 174, and a deluxe battery, Fig. 175, which has a better finish and appearance. Both types have a mahogany finished case with rubber feet to prevent damaging furniture. A bail handle simplifies the carrying of the battery. Capacities range from 47 ampere-hours to 127 ampere-hours at a one ampere discharge rate.

[Fig. 174 & 175 Presto-O-Lite Radio "A" battery]

Table of Prest-O-Lite Radio Batteries ——————————————————- Hours Discharge at Rate of: Type 1 Amp. 2 Amps. 3 Amps. 5 Amps. 10 Amps. ———- ——— ———- ———- ———- ———— 67 WHNR 47.5 21.7 13.6 7.5 3.0 69 WHNR 66 30 18.9 10.5 4.5 611 WHNR 82.8 38.5 24.3 13.5 6.0 67 KPNR 95 44.2 27.8 15.0 6.5 69 KPNR 127 61.5 38.5 21.5 9.5


[Fig. 176 Universal Type WR, Radio "A" battery]

The Universal Battery Co. manufacture three types of Radio "A" storage batteries. Type WR, Fig. 176, has three sealed hard rubber jars assembled in a hardwood case which is stained and finished in mahogany. The separators are made of Port Orford cedar and are 1/8 inch thick, about twice the thickness of the separator used in starting and lighting batteries. The plates also are much thicker than the standard starting and lighting battery plate. The type WR battery comes in three sizes. Types WR-5, WR-7, and WR-9, having capacities of 60, 85, and 105 ampere hours, respectively, at a 3 ampere rate.

The Universal type RR radio "A" battery, Fig. 177, is assembled in a hard rubber combination case, which is a solid piece of rubber divided into three compartments. This gives a compact, acid proof case. This battery also comes in three sizes, types RR-5, RR-7, and RR-9, having capacities of 60, 85 and 105 ampere hours, respectively, at a three ampere discharge rate.

[Fig. 177 Universal Type RR, Radio "A" battery]

[Fig. 178 Universal Type GR, Radio "A" battery]

The Universal type GR radio "A" battery, Fig. 178, is assembled in three sealed glass jars which are placed in a mahogany finished wooden crate. This construction makes the cell interiors visible, enabling the owner to detect troubles and to watch the action of the cells on charge and discharge. The GR battery comes in two sizes, GR-5 and GR-Jr., having respective capacities of 60 and 16 ampere hours at a 3 ampere discharge rate.


During the past year or two, so-called "dry" starting and lighting storage batteries have appeared on the market. This class includes batteries having "dry," "semi-dry," and "jelly" electrolytes. The claims made for these batteries are that there is nothing to evaporate and that the periodical addition of water is therefore unnecessary, that spilling and slopping of electrolyte is impossible, and that injurious sulphation does not take place.

The "dry" storage battery is not a new idea, for as much as thirty-five years ago, the Oerlikon Company of Switzerland manufactured "dry" electrolyte storage batteries in commercial quantities. These batteries were for a long time a distinct success for work requiring only low rates of discharge. For high rates of discharge the lack of diffusion, due to the absence of a liquid electrolyte, reduces the capacity. The lack of diffusion will cause a rapid drop in voltage when cranking the engine! and a slow recovery after the engine begins to run under its own power.

The manufacturers of the "dry" storage batteries, of course, claim that their batteries are more efficient and satisfactory than the standard "wet" battery, but it has been impossible to get sufficient data from the manufacturers to go into detail on the subject.

Several of the largest of "wet" battery manufacturers formerly made "dry" storage batteries for lighting and ignition service, but when starting motors came into use, discarded the "dry" batteries in favor of the present "wet" storage batteries.


Discharge tests may be divided into four general classes:

(a) Brief High Rate Discharge Tests to determine condition of battery. These tests are made for 15 seconds at a high rate.

(b) Lighting Ability Discharge Tests.

(c) Starting Ability Discharge Tests.

(d) "Cycling" Discharge Tests.

The 15 Seconds High Rate Discharge Test

The 1.5 seconds high rate discharge test is a valuable aid in determining the condition of a battery, particularly where the hydrometer readings give false indications, such as is the case when electrolyte or acid is added to a cell instead of water to replace evaporation. Only two or three percent of the battery capacity is consumed by the test, and it is not usually necessary to recharge the battery after making the test. The test must be made in conjunction with hydrometer readings, as otherwise it might give false indications itself. Both incoming and outgoing batteries may be tested, and the method of testing depends upon whether the battery is coming in for repairs, or is going out after having been charged, repaired, or worked on in any way. In either case, the test consists of discharging the battery at a high rate for a short time, and taking voltage readings and making observations while the battery is discharging.

[Fig. 179 Making a 20 seconds high rate discharge test]

Rates of Discharge. It is not necessary to have any definitely fixed discharge rate. The rate should merely be high enough to reveal any improperly burned joints, short-circuited cells, or cells low in capacity for any reason. The discharge tester is suitable for all batteries used on cars and trucks.

For an Incoming Battery. Take a hydrometer reading of each cell. If the readings are all below 1.200 and are within 50 points of each other, most likely all the battery needs is a bench charge, with a possible adjustment of the gravity of the electrolyte at the end of the charge. The discharge test should in this case be made after the battery has been fully charged.

If the gravity readings are all above 1.200, or if the reading of one cell differs from the others by 50 points or more, make the discharge test, as shown in Fig. 179.

After fifteen seconds, read the voltage of each cell. If the cells are uniformly low in voltage; that is, below 1.5 volts per cell, the battery needs recharging. If the voltage readings of the cells differ by 0.1.0 volt or more and the battery is fairly well charged, there is something wrong in the cell having the low reading, and the battery should be opened and examined. With a discharged battery the difference in cell voltage will be greater, depending on the extent of the discharge, and only experience can guide in drawing correct conclusions. A short-circuited cell will give a very low voltage reading. Remember that the actual voltage reading is not as important in indicating a defective cell as the difference between the voltage readings of the cells. A cell which gives a voltage which is 0.1 volt or more less than the others is generally defective.

For Outgoing New, Charged, or Repaired Batteries. Just before putting the battery into service, make the test as a check on the internal condition of the battery, particularly if the battery has been repaired or has stood for sometime since being charged. (It is assumed that the battery has been charged and the gravity of the electrolyte properly adjusted when the test is made.)

The battery should not show more than 0.10 volt difference between any two cells at the end of 15 seconds, and no cell should show a voltage less than 1.75 volts, and the voltage should remain fairly constant during the test. If every cell reads below 1.75 volts, the battery has not been completely charged. If one cell is more than 0.10 volt lower than the others, or if its voltage falls off rapidly, that cell still needs repairs, or is insufficiently charged, or else the top connectors are not burned on properly. Top connectors which heat up during the test are not burned on properly.

Lighting Ability Discharge Tests

These are tests continuing for 5 hours to a final voltage of 1.7 per cell. These tests are not of as great an interest as the Starting Ability Tests, description of which follows:

Starting Ability Discharge Tests

The Society of Automotive Engineers recommends two ratings for starting and lighting batteries:

"Batteries for combined lighting and starting service shall have two ratings. The first shall indicate the lighting ability and be the capacity in ampere-hours of the battery when discharged continuously at the 5 hour rate to a final voltage of not less than 1.7 per cell, the temperature of the battery beginning such a discharge being 80 deg. Fahr. The second rating shall indicate the starting ability and shall be the capacity in ampere-hours when the battery is discharged continuously at the 20 minute rate to a final voltage of not less than 1.50 per cell, the temperature of the battery beginning such discharge being 80 deg. Fahr."

The capacity in ampere-hours given by manufacturers is for a continuous discharge for 5 hours. In the battery shop, however, the "starting-ability" discharge test is the test which should be made, though the conditions of the test are changed somewhat. To make this test, the battery should be fully charged. Connect a rheostat to the battery terminals and adjust the rheostat to draw about 100 amperes from an 11 plate battery, 120 amperes from a 13 plate battery, 135 amperes from a 15 plate battery, 155 amperes from a 17 plate battery, 170 amperes from a 19 plate battery and so on. Continue the discharge for 20 minutes, keeping the discharge current constant, and taking voltage readings of each cell at the start, and at the end of 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, if the battery is in good condition, the voltage of each cell should not be less than 1.5, and the temperature of the electrolyte in any cell should not exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit, provided that the temperature at the start was about 80 degrees.

The cell voltages should drop slowly during the test. If the voltage begins to drop rapidly during the test, as shown by the current falling off so rapidly that it is difficult to keep it at 100 amperes, measure the cell voltages quickly to see which cells are dropping rapidly. An example of a 100 ampere test on a good rebuilt cell with eleven plates is as follows:

Voltage immediately after start of discharge, 1.88. After 5 minutes, 1.86 volts. After 10 minutes, 1.80 volts. After 15 minutes, 1.72 volts. After 20 minutes, 1.5 volts.

If the voltage of a cell begins to fall off rapidly before the twenty minutes are up, but not before 15 minutes, the cell needs "cycling" (charging and discharging) to bring it up to capacity.

If the voltage drops rapidly before the end of 15 minutes, the plates are low in capacity, due to age, or some defect. It is not safe to expect very good service from a cell which will not stand up for 20 minutes before de voltage begins to drop rapidly.

If the rapid voltage drop begins very much before 20 minutes, it is very doubtful whether the battery will give good service. Comparisons of the results of tests with the service which the battery gives after installed on the car will soon enable the repairman to tell from the results of the tests just what to expect from any battery.

The "starting-ability" test should be made on all batteries which have been rebuilt whenever there is time to do so and on all batteries about which there is any doubt as to what service they will give. After the test, the batteries should be put on the line again and charged before sending them out.

The rates of discharge given here for the "starting-ability" tests may be varied if experience with a particular make of battery shows some other rate to be better. The important thing is to use the same rate of discharge for the same make and type of battery at all times. In this way the repairman will soon be able to distinguish between good and bad batteries of a particular make and type.

Cadmium Tests may be made during the Starting Ability Discharge Tests. See page 174.

"Cycling" Discharge Tests

New batteries, or rebuilt batteries which have had new plates installed, or sulphated batteries which will not "come up" on charge, should be discharged when they have "come-up," as far as they will go. In some cases it is necessary to charge and discharge them several times before they will be ready for service. This charging and discharging is often called "cycling" the battery.

New batteries are generally "cycled" at the factory before sending them out. The forming charge generally does not convert all the pastes into active material and the battery using plates which have been treated in the forming room is put through several discharges and charges after the battery is fully assembled. In service on a car, the battery is being "cycled" constantly and there is generally an increase in capacity after a battery is put on a car. Positive plates naturally increase in capacity, sometimes up to the very clay when they fall to pieces, while negatives tend to lose capacity with age.

Batteries which are assembled in the service station, using new plates, generally require several cycles of charge and discharge before the specific gravity will rise to 1.280 before the positives will give 2.4-2.5 volts on a Cadmium test, before the negatives will give a reversed voltage reading of 0.175 to 0.20 volt on a Cadmium test, and before a satisfactory "starting-ability" or "breakdown" test can be made.

A battery which has been abused by failing to add water to replace evaporation, by allowing to remain in a partially or completely discharged condition for sometime, or which has been allowed to become sulphated in any other way, will generally require "cycling" before it will "come-up" to a serviceable condition.

The rates for a "cycling" discharge should be such that the battery will be discharged during the daytime, the discharge being started in the morning, and the battery being put back oil the charging line in the evening in order that it may be charging during the night. The rate of discharge should be somewhat higher than the rate used when the plates are formed. Two or three amperes per positive plate in each cell will generally be satisfactory.

Discharge Apparatus

A simple discharge rheostat is shown in Fig. 180. The terminal on the end of the cable attached to the right hand terminal of the battery shown in the illustration is movable, and it may be clamped at any point along the coils of wire so as to give various currents. The wire should be greased lightly to prevent rusting.

[Fig. 180 Simple high rate discharge rheostat]

Another simple apparatus consists of a board on which are mounted six double contact automobile lamp sockets which are all connected in parallel. A pair of leads having test clips attached is brought out from the sockets for fastening to the battery terminals. Lamps of various candlepower may be turned into the sockets to obtain different currents.

Discharge tests are helpful in the case of a battery that has lost capacity. The battery is first fully charged, and is then discharged at the 5 hour rate. When the voltage of the battery has fallen to 1.7 volts per cell (measured while the battery is discharging) a Cadmium test is made to determine whether the positives or negatives are causing the lack of capacity. For further descriptions of the Cadmium Test see Page 174.

In reviving sulphated batteries, it is sometimes necessary to charge and discharge the battery several times to put the active material in a healthy condition.

Discharge tests at a high rate are very valuable in diagnosing the condition of a battery. A description of such tests will be found on Page 267. For making the heavy discharge tests a rheostat of the carbon plate type is suitable. With such a rheostat currents from 25 to more than 200 may be drawn from a six volt battery, and a smooth, even variation of a current may be obtained from the minimum to the maximum values. Such a rheostat is on the market and may be purchased complete with ammeter and leads for attaching to the battery.


Batteries which are shipped without electrolyte need merely have plenty of excelsior placed around them in a strong crate for protection from mechanical injury.

Batteries which are shipped filled with electrolyte must be protected from mechanical injury and must also be packed so that it is difficult to turn the crate upside down and thus allow the electrolyte to run out. A very popular crate has been the so-called "dog-house," with a gable roof such as is actually used on dog-houses. The idea of such a roof is that it is impossible to place the crate with the roof down, since it will tip over if this is done. However, if these crates are placed side by side, it is a very simple matter to put a second row of crates on top of them, turning the second row up-side-down, as shown in Fig. 181, and allowing the electrolyte to run out. The men who load freight or express-cars have often shown great skill and cunning in packing "dog-house" crates in other ways so as to damage the batteries. Many have attained a high degree of perfection in breaking the crates.

[Fig. 181 "Dog-house" crates for shipping batteries]

Some sort of a roof on a battery crate is required by law, the idea being to make it difficult to turn the crate up-side-down. Perhaps the best crate would be one with a flat top marked "This Side Up," but such a crate would not comply with the law.

[Fig. 182 Steps for construction of a crate for shipping battery]

A better form of crate than the "dog-house" and one which complies with the law, is shown in Fig. 182. The top of each end piece is cut at an angle, the peak on one end being placed opposite the low point of the opposite end piece. Fig. 182 shows the steps in the construction of the crate.

1. The case should be built of strong lumber (11/2 inch preferably), and of ample size to allow packing with excelsior top, bottom, sides and ends to a thickness of two or three inches. Nail strongly.

2. When the case is complete (except cover) place a thick, even layer of excelsior (or packing straw) in the bottom and set in *he battery right side up. Lay paper (preferably paraffined) over top of battery to keep it clean, then pack tightly with excelsior sides and ends.

3. Now lay sufficient packing material on top of the battery so that cover will compress it tightly, stuffing it under cover boards as they are put on.

The extended boards at bottom, and the gable roof are provided to prevent the battery from being tipped over; extensions of sides for carrying. Box should be plainly labeled: "HANDLE WITH CARE. DAMAGES CLAIMED IF TIPPED ON SIDE." In addition to the address of destination, as given in shipping instructions be sure to mark with name of shipper for identification upon arrival. When shipping by freight, the proper freight classification in the United States is "Electric Storage Batteries, Assembled." When shipping by express in the United States, "Acid" caution labels must be attached to each package.


Separators which have been given the chemical treatment necessary to remove the substances which would cause trouble in the battery, and to make the wood porous, must be kept wet and never be allowed to become dry. A lead lined box, or large earthenware jars may be used as containers. Put the separators in the container and then pour in enough very weak electrolyte to cover the separators. This electrolyte may be made of I part of 1.220 electrolyte to 10 parts of distilled water, by volume. Be very careful to have the container absolutely clean and to use chemically pure acid and distilled water in making the weak electrolyte. Remember that impurities which are picked up by the separators will go into the battery in which the separators are placed. Therefore, keep the separator tank in a clean place and keep a cover on it. Have your hands clean when you take separators out of the tank to place in a battery, and do not put the separators on a dirty bench before inserting them between plates. The best thing to do is to hold the separators in one hand and insert them with the other, and not lay them on any bench at all.


Separators are the weakest part of a battery and wear out while the other parts of a battery are still in good condition. Good plates are often ruined by weakened separators causing short-circuits. Many batteries which have to be junked after being in service about a year would have given considerable service if they had been reinsulated.

Generally the separators of one cell wear out before those of the other cells. Do not, however, reinsulate that cell alone. The separators in the other cells are as old as those which have worn out, and are very near the breaking down point. If you reinsulate only one cell, the owner will naturally assume that the other cells are in good condition. What happens? A month or so later one of the other cells "goes dead." This does not have a very soothing effect on the owner, who will begin to lose confidence in you and begin to look around for another service station.

If you explain frankly that it is useless to reinsulate only one cell of a battery and that the other cells will break down in a short time, the customer will want you to reinsulate all the cells. A somewhat higher bill for reinsulating all the cells at once will be more agreeable than having the cells break down one at a time within a month or two.

In the case of the customers who come in regularly for testing and filling service, you will be able to tell when the separators are wearing out. When you find that a battery which has been in service about a year begins to run down frequently, and successive tests made in connection with testing and filling service show that the generator is not able to keep the battery charged, advise the owner to have the battery reinsulated. Do not wait for the battery to have a dead cell. Sell the owner on the idea that reinsulation will prevent the possibility of his battery breaking down when he may be out on a tour, and when it may be necessary to have his car towed in to a service station. If you allow the battery to remain on the car when it begins to lose its charge, the owner will not, of course, suspect that anything is wrong, and if his battery one day breaks down suddenly, lie will very likely lose confidence both in you and the battery, since he has been bringing in his car regularly in order to have his battery kept in good shape. The sudden failure of his battery will, therefore, make him believe that you do not know your business, or that the battery is a poor one.

New separators will give every battery which is a year old a new lease on life. If you explain to a customer that he will get a much longer period of service from his battery if he has it reinsulated when the battery is a year old, you should have no trouble in getting the job, and the subsequent performance of the battery will show that you knew what you were talking about.


1. Do not work on an empty stomach-you can then absorb lead easily.

2. Keep your fingers out of your mouth when at work.

3. Keep your finger nails short and clean.

4. Do not chew tobacco while at work. In handling tobacco, the lead oxides are carried to your mouth. Chewing tobacco does not prevent you from swallowing lead.

5. When you leave the shop at night, and before eating, wash your face, hands, and arms with soap, and clean your nose, mouth, and finger nails.

6. Do not eat in the repair shop.

7. Drink plenty of good milk. It prevents lead poisoning.

8. Use Epsom Salts when constipated. This is very important.

9. Bathe frequently to prevent lead poisoning.

10. Leave your working clothes in the shop.

11. It is better not to wear a beard or mustache. Keep your hair covered with a cap.

12. Before sweeping the shop dampen the floor to keep down the dust.

13. Do not drink beer or whisky, or any other alcoholic liquors. These weaken your system and make you more susceptible to lead poisoning.

14. In handling lead, wear gloves as much as possible, and wash and dry the gloves every day that you wear them.

15. Wear goggles to keep lead and acid out of your eyes.

16. When melting lead in a hydrogen flame, as in burning on the top connectors, the fumes given off may be blown away by a stream of air. The air supply to the flame may be tapped for this purpose.

17. The symptoms of lead poisoning are: gums darken or become blue, indigestion, colic, constipation, loss of appetite, muscular pain. In the later stages there is muscular weakness and paralysis. The hands become limp and useless.

18. Wear rubber shoes or boots. Leather shoes should be painted with a hot mixture of equal parts of paraffine and beeswax.

19. Wear woolen clothes if possible. Cotton clothing should be dipped in a strong solution of baking soda and dried. Wear a flannel apron covered with sacking.

20. Keep a bottle of strong ammonia handy. If you should spill acid on your clothes, apply some of the ammonia immediately to neutralize the acid, which will otherwise burn a hole in your clothes.

21. Keep a stone, earthenware, or porcelain jar filled with a solution of washing soda or baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Rinse your hands in this solution occasionally to prevent the acid from irritating them.

22. If you should splash acid in your eye, wash it out immediately with warm water, and drop olive oil on the eye. If you have no olive oil at hand, do not wait to get some, but use any, lubricating oil, or vaseline.


"Out of sight, out of mind," is a familiar saying. But when does it hold true?

What about the battery repairman? Are the batteries he repairs "out of sight, out of mind?" Does his responsibility end when he has installed a battery on a car? Suppose he put a battery in first class shape, installs it on a car, and, after a week or two the battery comes back, absolutely dead? Is the battery at fault, or is the repairman to blame for neglecting to make sure that the battery would be given a reasonably good chance to give good service and receive fair treatment from the other part of the electrical system?

The actual work on the battery is finished when the battery cables are fastened to the battery terminals. But real battery SERVICE does not end there. The battery is the most important part of the electrical system of a car, but it is only one part, and a good battery cannot be expected to give satisfactory service when it is connected to the other parts of the electrical system without making sure that these parts are working properly, any more than a man wearing new, shoes can step into a mud puddle and not have his shoes covered with dirt.

The battery functions by means of the current which flows through it by way of the cables which are connected to its terminals. A battery is human in many respects. It must have both food and exercise and there must be a proper balance between the food and the exercise. Too much food for the amount of exercise, or too much exercise for the amount of food consumed will both lead to a lowering of efficiency, and disease frequently results. A battery exercises when it turns over the starting motor, furnishes energy to the lamps, or operates the a ignition system. It receives food when it is charged. Proper attention to the electrical system will result in a correct balance between food and exercise, or in other words, charge and discharge.

The electrical equipment of a car consists of five principal parts:

1. The Battery. 2. The Ignition System. 3. The Starting Motor. 4. The Generator. 5. The Lighting System.

The normal course of operation of this system is as follows:

Starting. The ignition switch is closed, and connects the ignition system to the battery. The starting switch is then closed, connecting the starting motor to the battery. The battery sends a heavy current through the starting motor, causing the motor to turn over, or "crank" the engine. The motion of the engine pistons draws a mixture of air and gasoline vapor into the cylinders. At the proper instant sparks are made to jump between the points of the spark plugs, igniting the air and gasoline vapor mixture, forming a large amount of gas. This gas expands, and in doing so puts the engine into motion. The engine begins to run under its own power and the starting switch is opened, since the starting motor has performed the work required of it, and has nothing further to do as long as the engine runs.

The engine now operates the generator. The generator begins to build up a voltage as the engine speed increases. When the voltage of the generator has risen to about 7-7.5, the generator is automatically connected to the battery by the cutout (also known as reverse-current relay, cut-out relay, or relay). The voltage of the generator being higher than that of the battery, the generator sends a current through the battery, which "charges" the battery. As long As the engine continues to run above the speed at which the generator develops a voltage higher than that of the battery, a charging current will normally flow through the battery. When the ignition switch is opened the engine can no longer develop any power and consequently stops running. When the decreasing engine speed causes the generator speed to drop to a point at which the generator voltage is less than that of battery, the battery sends a reverse, or discharge current through the cutout and generator, thereby causing the cutout to open and disconnect the generator from the battery.

Lights. When the engine is not running, the battery furnishes current to the lights. This is a discharge current. When the engine runs at a speed which is greater than that at which the the cutout closes, the generator furnishes current for the lights, and also for the ignition system, in addition to sending a charging current through the battery.

From the foregoing description, we see that the battery is at rest, is discharging, or charging under the following conditions:

Engine Not Running, Lamps Off, Ignition Off. Under these conditions all switches are open, and hence no current should be passing through the battery. If a current is found to be passing through the battery under these conditions, it is a discharge current which is not doing any work and is caused by a defective cutout, defective switches, or grounds and short-circuits in the wires, cables, or apparatus connected to the battery.

Starting the Engine. A heavy discharge current is drawn from the battery. This current should not flow more than 10 seconds. If the starting motor does not crank the engine or cranks it too slowly, the motor or the cables and switch connecting the motor to the battery are defective, assuming that the battery is large enough and is in a good condition. If the starting motor cranks the engine, but the engine does not begin to run under its own power within ten seconds, the starting system is not at fault, and the starting switch should be opened.

Engine Not Running, All Lamps On. A discharge current flows from the battery which is equal to the sum of the currents drawn by lamps when connected to the battery separately. If the current is greater than this sum, trouble is present.

Engine Running, Lamps Off. The generator sends a charging current into the battery and also supplies current to the ignition system (except when a magneto is used). If the generator does not send a charging current through the battery there is trouble in the generator, or in the parts connecting the generator to the battery (assuming the battery to be in a good condition). If the generator sends a current through the battery, it may be of the correct value, it may be insufficient, or it may be excessive. A normal current is one which keeps the battery fully charged, but does not overheat it or cause excessive gassing. An insufficient current is one which fails to keep the battery charged. An excessive charging current is one which keeps the battery charged, but which at the same time overheats the battery and causes excessive gassing. The excessive current may also overheat the generator, while a normal or insufficient charging current will not injure the generator.

It is possible, but not probable, that the generator may be sending current through the battery in the wrong direction, so as to discharge it instead of charging it. This will happen if a very badly discharged battery is installed with the connections reversed. If a fully or even partly charged battery is installed with its connections reversed, the battery will generally reverse the polarity of the generator automatically, and the battery will be charged in the proper direction, although the current flow in the charging circuit is actually reversed.

Engine Running, Lamps On. Under these conditions, the generator should supply the current for the lights, and still send a charging current of 3 to 5 amperes through the battery. This means that the current drawn from the battery when the engine is not running and the lights are all turned on should be at least several amperes less than the charging current which the generator sends into the battery when the engine is running and the lamps are turned off.

Tests to Be Made by the Repairman

The battery repairman can, and always should, make a few simple tests which will tell him whether the various conditions of operation are normal. This should be done as follows:

1. Install the battery carefully (see page 236), and connect the negative battery cable to the negative battery terminal. Now tap the positive battery cable on the positive battery terminal. If a snappy spark is obtained when this is done, some of the switches are open or are defective, the cutout is stuck in the closed position, or there are grounds or short-circuits in the parts which are permanently connected to the battery.

Even though no spark is obtained when you tap the positive battery cable on the positive battery terminal, there may be some trouble which draws enough current from the battery to cause it to run down in a short time. To detect such trouble, connect a voltmeter (which has sufficient range to indicate the battery voltage) between the positive battery cable and the positive battery terminal. (Cable is disconnected from the terminal.) If the voltmeter now gives a reading equal to the voltage of the battery, there is some condition causing a current leakage from the battery, such as a cutout stuck in the closed position, defective switches which do not break the circuits when in the open position, or grounds or short-circuits in the cables and wires connected to the battery.

If the voltmeter pointer does not move from the "0" line on the scale, complete the battery connections by fastening the positive battery cable to the positive battery terminal, and make the test described in Section 2. If the voltmeter pointer moves from the "0" line, and gives a reading equal to the battery voltage, connect the voltmeter permanently between the positive battery cable and the positive battery terminal and make a general inspection of the wiring, looking for cut or torn insulation which allows a wire or cable to come in contact with the frame of the car, or with some other wire or cable, thereby causing a ground or short-circuit. Old, oil-soaked insulation on wires and cables will often cause such trouble. If a general inspection does not reveal the cause of the current leakage, proceed as follows:

Closed Cutout, or Defective Cutout Windings. (a) If the cutout is mounted outside the generator, remove the cover from it and see if the points are stuck together. If they are, separate them and see if the voltmeter pointer returns to the "0" line. If it does, you have found the trouble. The points should be made smooth with 00 sandpaper. See that the moving arm of the cutout moves freely and that the spring which tends to hold the arm in the open position is not weak or broken.

If the voltmeter pointer does not return to the "0" line when the cutout points are separated, or if the points were not found to be stuck together, disconnect from the cutout the wire which goes to the ammeter or battery. If this causes the voltmeter pointer to return to the "0" line, the cutout is defective and a new one should be installed, unless the trouble can be found by inspection and repaired.

If the voltmeter pointer does not return to the "0" line when the battery or ammeter wire is disconnected from the cutout, see paragraph (d).

(b) If the cutout is mounted inside the generator, disconnect from the generator the wire which goes to the ammeter or indicator. If this causes the voltmeter pointer to return to the "0" line, the cutout points are stuck together or the cutout is defective, and the generator should be taken apart for inspection. If this does not cause the voltmeter pointer to return to the "0" line, replace the wire and see paragraph (d).

(c) If no cutout is used and connections between the generator (or motor-generator) and the battery are made by closing the ignition or starting switch, such as is the case on Delco and Dyneto motor-generators, and some Delco generators, disconnect from the generator or motorgenerator the wire that goes to the ammeter or indicator. If this causes the voltmeter pointer to return to the "0" line, the switch which connects the generator or motor-generator to the ammeter or indicator is defective. If the voltmeter pointer does not return to the "0" line, replace the wire and consult paragraph (d).

(d) Defective Starting Switch. Disconnect from the starting switch the cable that goes to the battery. If one or more smaller wires are connected to the same terminal as the heavy cable, disconnect them also and hold their bare ends on the bare end of the heavy cable. If this causes the voltmeter pointer to return to the "0" line, the starting switch is defective. If the voltmeter pointer does not return to the "0" line, replace the cable and wires on the starting switch terminal and proceed as follows:

Defective Switches. See that the ignition and lighting switches are in their "OFF" positions. If they are not, open them and see if the voltmeter pointer returns to the "0" line. If it does, you have found the trouble. If it does not, disconnect from the switch (or switches, if there are separate lighting and ignition switches), the feed wire which supplies current to the switch from the battery. If this causes the voltmeter pointer to return to the "0" line, the switches are defective. If the pointer does not return to the "0" line, replace the wires on the switch and consult the next paragraph.

If there are other switches which control a spot light, or special circuits, such as tonneau lamps, or accessories, such as gasoline vaporizers, electric primers, etc., make the same tests on these switches. If no trouble has been found, see paragraph (e).

(e) Grounds or Short-Circuits in Wiring. Disconnect from each terminal point in the wiring system the wires which are connected together at that point. Also remove fuses from the fuse blocks. If the voltmeter pointer returns to the "0" line when a certain wire or fuse is removed, there is a ground or short-circuit in the wire or in the circuit to which the fuse is connected.

(f) Turn on the Lights. Remove the voltmeter and complete the battery connection. Note how much current is indicated on the ammeter mounted on the instrument panel of the car as the different lamps are turned on. In each case the ammeter should indicate "discharge." Should the ammeter indicate "charge" the battery connections have been reversed, or the ammeter connections are reversed. The driver will tell you whether the ammeter has been reading "charge" or "discharge" when the lamps were turned on. This is a good way to check your battery connections.

If the car has no ammeter, or has an indicator which is marked "ON" or "OFF," or "Charge" or "Discharge," an ammeter may be connected in series with the battery by disconnecting the cable from the positive battery terminal and connecting the ammeter to the cable and to the terminal, and the readings obtained from this meter.

The amperes indicated on the ammeter should be the greatest when the main headlamps are burning bright. By comparing the readings obtained when the different lighting combinations are turned on, it is sometimes possible to detect trouble in some of the lighting lines.

3. Start the Engine. Before you do this, be sure that the cables are connected directly to the battery terminals, and that no ammeter or voltmeter is connected in series with the battery, as the heavy current drawn by the starting motor would ruin the instruments very quickly. An ammeter may be left connected in series with the battery, providing that a switch is used to short-circuit the meter while starting the engine. A meter having a 500 ampere scale may be left connected in series with the battery while the engine is being started, but for the tests which are to be made a 25 ampere scale should be used.

The engine should start within ten seconds after the starting switch is closed. If more time than this is required, carburetor adjustments, position of the choke lever, etc., should be looked after. Continued cranking of the engine will run the battery down very quickly, and the chances are that the car will not be run long enough to allow the generator to recharge the battery. Make whatever adjustments are necessary to reduce the cranking time to ten seconds, or advise the owner to have them made, warning him that otherwise you will not be responsible if the battery runs down very quickly.

4. When the engine has started, set the throttle lever so that the engine runs As slowly as possible. The ammeter (either that on the instrument panel, or a special test ammeter connected in series with the battery) will indicate several amperes discharge, this being the current taken by the ignition system.

Now speed up the engine gradually. At an engine speed corresponding to a car speed of 7 to 10 miles per hour in high (if there is any difficulty in estimating this speed, drive the car around the block while making this and the following tests) the ammeter pointer should move back to, or slightly past, the "0" line, showing that the cutout has closed. If the ammeter needle jumps back and forth and the cutout opens and closes rapidly, the polarity of the battery and that of the generator are not the same. This condition may be remedied by holding the cutout points closed for several seconds, or by short-circuiting the "Battery" terminal on the cutout with the "Generator" terminal on the cutout.

After a slight movement of the ammeter pointer indicates that the cutout has closed, speed up the engine gradually. When the engine speed corresponds to a car speed of 18-25 miles per hour in "high," the current indicated on the ammeter should reach its maximum value and the pointer should then stop moving, or should begin to drop back toward the "0" line as the speed is increased.

For average driving conditions, the maximum charging current should not exceed 12 to 14 amperes for a 6 volt, 11 to 13 plate battery, and 6 to 7 amperes for a 12 volt battery. (These currents should be obtained if "constant-current" generators, such as the "third brush," "reversed-series," or vibrating current regulators are used. The "third brush" type of generator is used on more than 99 per cent of the modern cars. Some cars use a "constant-voltage" regulated generator, such as the Bijur generator, having a voltage regulator carried in a box mounted on the generator. On all cars using a "constant-voltage" generator, the charging rate when the battery is fully charged should not exceed five amperes for a six volt generator). If the generator has a thermostat, such as is used on the Remy generators, the charging rate will be as high as 20 amperes until the generator warms up, and then the charging rate will drop to 10-12 amperes, due to the opening of the thermostat points, which inserts a resistance coil in series with the shunt field.

If the charging current reaches its maximum value at 18-25 miles per hour, and shows no increase at higher speeds, decrease the engine speed. When the engine is running at a speed corresponding to a car speed of about 7 miles per hour, or less, the cutout should open, indicated by the ammeter indicating several amperes discharge, in addition to the ignition current, for an instant, and then dropping back to the amount taken by the ignition system.

Now turn on the headlights (and whatever lamps are turned on at the same time) and speed the engine up again. The ammeter should indicate some charging current at engine speeds corresponding to the usual speed at which the car is driven. If it does not, the charging current should be increased or smaller lamps must be installed.


The operation of the electrical system when the engine is running may not be as described in the foregoing paragraphs. Troubles may be found as follows:

1. Cutout does not close until engine reaches a speed in excess of 10 miles per hour. This trouble may be due to the cutout or to the generator. If the ammeter shows a charging current of three amperes or more as soon as it closes, the cutout is at fault. The thing to do in such a case is to adjust the cutout. First see that the movable armature of the cutout moves freely and does not bind at the pivot. If no trouble is found here, the thing to do is to decrease the air gap which exists between the stationary and movable cutout points when the cutout is open., or to decrease the tension of the spring which tends to keep the points open. On most cutouts there is a stop which the cutout armature strikes when the cutout opens. By bending this stop the air-gap between the points may be decreased. This is the adjustment which should be made to have the cutout close earlier, rather than to decrease the spring tension. Some cutouts have a spiral spring attached to the cutout armature. Others have a flat spring. On still others, the spring forms the connection between the armature and the cutout frame. In the first two types, the spring tension may be decreased, but wherever possible the air-gap adjustment should be made as described.

If the cutout closes late, and only about an ampere of charging current is indicated on the ammeter, and the cutout points are fairly clean and smooth, the trouble is generally in the generator.

The generator troubles which are most likely to exist are:

a. Dirty commutator. b. Dirty brush contact surface. c. Loose brushes. d. Brushes bearing on wrong point of commutator (to set brushes properly, remove all outside connections from generator, open the shunt field circuit, and apply a battery across the main brushes. Shift the brushes until the armature does not tend to rotate in either direction. This is, of course, a test which must be made with the generator on the test bench). e. Loose connections in the shunt field circuit.

The foregoing conditions are the ones which will generally be found. More serious troubles will generally prevent the generator from building up at all.

2. Cutout does hot open when engine stops. This condition is shown by a discharge current of about 5 amperes when the engine has stopped. (In Delco systems which have no cutout, an even greater discharge will be noted as long as the ignition switch remains closed.) This trouble is generally due to cutout points stuck together, a broken cutout spring, or a bent or binding cutout armature.

3. Cutout does not open until ammeter indicates a discharge of three or more amperes (in addition to the ignition discharge). This may be remedied by increasing the spring tension of the cutout, or removing any trouble which causes the cutout armature to bind. On many cutouts the armature does not actually touch the core of the cutout winding when the points are closed, there being a small piece of copper or other non-magnetic metal on the armature which touches the end of the cutout and maintains a small air gap between the core and armature, even when the points are closed. The opening action of the cutout may be changed by filing this piece of non-magnetic material so as to decrease the air gap, or pinching it with heavy pliers so as to make it stand farther out from the cutout armature and thus increase the air gap between the armature and core when the points are closed.

Decreasing this air gap will cause the cutout to open late, and increasing it will cause the cutout to open early.

4. Cutout will not close at any engine speed. If cutout does not close the first time the engine speed is increased, stop the engine. This condition may be due to a defective cutout, an open-circuit in the charging line, a ground or short-circuit between the cutout and the generator, or a defective generator. To determine whether the cutout is defective, remove the wires from it and hold together the ends of the wires coming from the generator, and the one going to the ammeter. Start the engine. If no other trouble exists, the ammeter will indicate a charging current at speeds above 8-10 miles per hour. If no current is obtained, stop the engine. If the cutout trouble consisted of an open circuit in one of its windings, or in the points not closing, due to dirt or a binding armature, or if there is an open-circuit in the charging line, the generator will, of course, have been running on open-circuit. This will cause the fuse in the shunt field circuit to blow if there is such a fuse, and if there is no such fuse, the shunt field coils may be burned open, or the insulation on the field coil wires may have become overheated to a point at which it burns and carbonizes, and causes a short-circuit between wires. Such troubles will, of course, prevent a generator from building up when the cutout wires are disconnected and their ends held together.

If there is a ground in the cutout, or between the cutout and the generator, the generator will very likely be unable to generate (if a "one-wire" system is used on the car). If there is some defect in the generator-such as dirty commutator, high mica, brushes not touching, commutator dirty, or loose brushes, brushes too far from neutral, grounded brushes, brushes not well ground in, wrong type of brushes, grounded commutator or armature windings, short-circuited commutator or armature windings, open-circuited armature windings, grounded field windings, short-circuited field windings, open-circuit or poor connections in field circuit, one or more field coil connections reversed, wrong type of armature or field coils used in repairing generator, generator drive mechanism broken-then the generator will not build up.

If no charging current is, therefore, obtained when the generator and ammeter wires are disconnected from the cutout and their ends held together, there may be a ground or short-circuit in the cutout windings or in the circuit between the generator and the cutout, or the generator may be defective, due to having been operated on open-circuit, or due to troubles as described in the foregoing paragraph. The presence of a ground or short in the circuit between the generator and cutout or in the cutout may be determined by disconnected the wire from the generator, disconnecting the battery (or ammeter) wire from the cutout, and running a separate extra wire from the generator to the wire removed from the cutout. Then start the engine again. If a charging current is obtained, there is a ground or short either in the cutout or in the circuit between the cutout and the generator. (It is also possible that the failure of the generator to build up was due to poor brush contact in the generator. The use of the extra wire connected the generator directly to the battery, thus magnetizing the generator fields and causing generator to build up. If poor brush contact prevented the generator from building up, closing the cutout by hand will often cause the generator to start charging. If you can therefore cause the generator to build up by holding the cutout points closed by hand, or by shorting across from the generator terminal to the battery terminal of the cutout, it is probable that the generator brushes are not making good contact). The cutout may be tested by stopping the engine, replacing the battery (or ammeter) wire on the cutout, and holding the end of the extra wire on the generator terminal of the cutout. If a charging current is then obtained, the cutout is 0. K. and the trouble is between the cutout and the generator.

5. An excessive current is obtained. If a third brush generator is used, look for loose or dirty connections in the charging line, dirty cutout points, dirty commutator, dirty brushes (especially the brush, or brushes, which is Dot connected to one end of the field winding), brushes loose, brushes not well ground in, and any other conditions which will cause a high resistance in the charging line. It is characteristic of third brush generators that their current output increases if there is an increase in resistance in the charging circuit. If no troubles such as those enumerated above are found, the third brush may need adjusting.

Generators using vibrating current or voltage regulators will give an excessive output if the points need adjusting or if the regulating resistance is short-circuited.

Generators using reversed series regulation will give an excessive output if there is a short-circuit in the series field coils.

6. Low charging current is obtained. This may be due to adjustment of the regulating device, to high resistance in the shunt field circuit in case of a third brush generator. In case of generators using other kinds of regulation, loose connections, dirty commutator and brushes, etc., will cause low charging current.

7. Generator charges up to a certain speed and then stops charging. The trouble is caused by some condition which causes the brushes to break contact with the commutator, especially in the case of a "third" brush. High mica, loose brush spring, or a commutator which has been turned down off-center may cause the trouble. This trouble most frequently occurs on cars using third brush motor-generators having a 3 to 1 or more speed ratio between them and the engine. These motor-generators operate at such high speeds that high mica and a commutator which is even slightly off center have a much greater effect than the same conditions would cause in separate generators which operate at much lower speeds. The remedy for this trouble is to keep the mica under-cut, and to be very careful to center the armature in the lathe when taking a cut from the armature. In turning down the commutators of high speed motor-generators, special fittings should be made by means of which the armature may be mounted in its own ball-bearings while the commutator is turned down.


The repairman should be very slow in adjusting generator outputs. Most cases of insufficient or excessive charging current are due to the troubles enumerated in the foregoing paragraphs, and not due to incorrect adjustment of the regulating device. Before changing the adjustment of any generator, therefore, be sure that everything is in good condition. The third brush generator, for instance, will have an excessive output if the brushes are dirty, loose, or not well seated on the commutator. The use of a third brush which is too wide, for instance, will change the output considerably. A high resistance third brush will decrease the output, while a low resistance brush will increase the output. On the other hand, an increase in the resistance of the charging circuit will cause an increase in the output of a third brush generator, which is just the opposite to what is ordinarily expected. Such an increase in resistance may be due to loose or dirty connections, dirty cutout contact points, corroded battery terminals and so on. Remember also that the third brush generator sends a higher current into a fully charged battery than it sends into a discharged battery. It is, therefore, essential that a fully charged battery be on the car when the output of a third brush generator is adjusted.

There are two things which determine whether any change should be made in the charging rate on the car, viz: Driving, Conditions and the Season of the Year.

Driving Conditions. A car which makes short runs, with numerous stops, requires that the starting motor be used frequently. This tends to run the battery down very quickly. Moreover, such a car usually does not have its engine running long enough to give the generator an opportunity to keep the battery charged, and to accomplish this, the charging rate should be increased.

A car which is used mostly at night may need a higher charging rate, especially if short runs are made, and if the car stands at the curb with its lights burning. Long night runs will generally call for only a normal charging rate, since the long charging periods are offset by the continuous use of the lamps.

A car used on long daylight runs should generally have the charging rate reduced, because the battery is charged throughout such runs with no discharge into lamps or starting of motor to offset the continued charge. If the lamps are kept lighted during such runs, the normal charge rate will be satisfactory, because the lamp current will automatically reduce the current sent into the battery.

In the winter time, engines must be cranked for a longer time before they will start, the battery is less efficient than in warm weather, and lights are burning for a greater length of time than in summer. Such conditions require an increase in the charging rate, especially if the car is used on short runs. Oil long runs in the winter time, the normal charging rate will generally be satisfactory because the long charging period will offset the longer cranking period.

In the summer time, engines start more easily than in winter, and hence require less cranking. The lamps are used for only short periods and the battery is more efficient than in winter. A lower charging rate will, therefore, keep the battery charged. Long tours in the summer time are especially likely to result in overcharged, overheated batteries, and a reduced charging rate is called for.

How and When to Adjust Charging Rates

A correct charging rate is one which keeps a battery fully charged, but does not overcharge it, and which does not cause either the generator or the battery to become overheated. The only way to determine whether a certain charging rate is correct on any particular car is to make an arrangement with the car owner to bring in his car every two weeks. On such occasions hydrometer readings should be taken and water added, if necessary, to bring the surface of the electrolyte up to the proper level. The hydrometer readings will show whether the generator is keeping the battery charged, and if a change in the charging rate is necessary, the necessary adjustments may be made. If a customer does not bring in his car every two weeks, call him up on the phone or write to him. The interest which you show in his battery by doing this will generally result in the customer giving you all his repair business, and he will also tell his acquaintances about your good service. This will give you considerable "word of mouth" advertising, which is by far the best form of advertising and which cannot be bought. It must be earned by good battery service.

Adjusting a third brush generator. The best rule to remember for changing the output of a third brush machine is that to increase the output, move the third brush in the direction in which the commutator rotates, and to decrease the output, move the third brush in the opposite direction. Move the third brush only 1/16 inch and then sandpaper the brush seat with 00 sandpaper. Allow the generator to run for about twenty minutes to "run-in" the brush. Then vary the speed to see what the maximum charging rate is. If the change in the charging rate is not sufficient, move the third brush another 1/16 inch and proceed as before until the desired charging rate is obtained.

Adjusting Vibrating Regulators. The output of generators which use a vibrating regulator is adjusted by changing the tension of the spring fastened to the regulator arm. In many cases this adjustment is made by means of a screw which is turned up or down to change the spring tension. In other cases a hook or prong is bent to change the spring tension. Where a coil spring is used, lengthening the spring will decrease the tension and lower the output, while shortening the spring will increase the tension and raise the output.

Vibrating regulators are of the "constant" current or the "constant-voltage" types. The constant current regulator has a winding of heavy wire which carries the charging current. When the charging current reaches the value for which the regulator is set, the electromagnet formed by the coil and the core on which it is wound draws the regulator armature toward it and thereby separates the regulator points, which are in series with the shunt field. A resistance coil, which is connected across the regulator points and which is short-circuited when the points are closed, is put in series with the shunt field when the points separate. This reduces the shunt field current, causing a decrease in generator voltage and hence current output. As the current decreases, the pull of the electromagnet on the regulator armature weakens and the spring overcomes the pull of the electromagnet and closes the regulator points. This short-circuits the resistance coil connected across the regulator points and allows the shunt field current to increase again, thereby increasing the generator output. This cycle is repeated at a high rate of speed, causing the regulator points to vibrate rapidly.

The action of a vibrating "constant-voltage" regulator is exactly the same as that of the "constant current" regulator, except that the coil is connected across the generator brushes. The action of this coil therefore depends on the generator voltage, the regulator points vibrating when the generator voltage rises to the value for which the regulator is set.

Adjusting Reverse-Series Generators. The regulation of the output of this type of generator is accomplished by means of a field winding which is in series with the armature, and which therefore carries the charging current. These series field coils are magnetically opposed to the shunt field coils, and an increase in charging current results in a weakening of the field flux. A balanced condition is reached at which no increase of flux takes place as the generator speed increases, the tendency of the increased shunt field current to increase the total flux being counterbalanced by the weakening action of the flux produced by the series field current.

To increase the output of a reverse series generator, it is necessary to weaken the opposing series field flux. The only way of doing this is to short-circuit the series field coils, or connect a resistance across them. To decrease the output of a reverse series generator, a resistance coil may be connected in series with the shunt field winding. Neither of these schemes is practicable, and hence the reverse series generator may be considered as a "non-adjustable" machine. Under-charging may be prevented by using the starting motor and lights as little as possible, or by giving the battery a bench charge occasionally. Over-charging may be prevented by burning the lights whenever the engine is running, or leaving the lights turned on over night.

Other forms of regulation have been used on the older cars, but the majority of the cars now in use use one of the four forms of regulation described in the foregoing paragraphs. If adjustments need to be made on some car having a system of-regulation with which the battery man is not familiar, the work should be done in a service station doing generator work.

If generator outputs are changed because of some special operating condition, such as summer tours, the rate should be changed to normal as soon as the usual driving conditions are resumed.


Every man expects to be paid for his work, since his purpose in working is to get money. Yet there are numerous instances in every line of work requiring work to be done for which no money is received. The term "Free Service" is familiar to every repairman, and it has been the cause of considerable discussion and dispute, since it is often very difficult to know where to draw the Tine between Free Service and Paid Service.

The term "Free Service" might be abolished with benefit to all concerned. In the battery business "Free Inspection" service is a familiar term. It is intended to apply to the regular addition of distilled water by the repairman and to tests made at the time the water is added. Since the term "Inspection" might be Misinterpreted and taken to apply to the opening of batteries for examination, the term "Testing and Filling Service" should be used instead of "Free Inspection Service."

Battery makers furnish cards for distribution to car owners. These cards entitle the holder to bring in his battery every two weeks to have distilled water added if necessary, and to have his battery tested without paying for it. This service requires very little time, and should be given cheerfully by every service man.

"Testing and Filling Service" is an excellent means of becoming acquainted with car owners. Be as pleasant and courteous to the "Testing and Filling" customer as you are to the man who brings in a battery that needs repairs. For this customer will certainly give you his repair business if you have been pleasant in giving the Testing and Filling Service.

A thoroughly competent battery man should be put in charge of the Testing and Filling Service, since this man must meet the car owners, upon whom the service station depends for its income. Customers are impressed, not by an imposing array of repair shop equipment, but by the manner of the men who meet them. These men will increase the number of your customers, or will drive trade to competitors, depending on the impression they leave in the minds of the car owners.

Every service station owner should persuade all the car owners in the vicinity of the station to come in regularly for the free testing and filling service, and when they do come in they should be given cheerful, courteous service. Each "testing" and "filling" customer is a prospective paying customer, for it is entirely natural that a car owner will give his repair work to the battery man who has been taking care of the testing and filling work Oil his battery. When a new battery is needed, the "testing" and "filling" customer will certainly buy it from the man who has been relieving him of the work of keeping his batteries in good shape.

Car owners who depend on your competitor for their "testing and filling" service will not come to you when their battery needs repairing, or when they need a new battery. You may be convinced that you handle a better make of battery than your competitor does, but your competitor's word will carry far more weight than yours with the man who has been coming to him for testing and filling. Good testing and filling service is, therefore, the best method of advertising and building up your business. The cost of this service to you is more than offset by the paying business it certainly brings, and by the saving in money spent for advertising. Remember that a boost by a satisfied customer is of considerably greater value to your business than newspaper advertising.

A careful record should be kept of every battery which is brought in regularly for testing and filling service. If a test shows that one or more cells are low in gravity, say about 1.220, this fact should be recorded. If the gravity is still low when the battery comes in again for test, remove the battery and give it a bench charge. The customer should, of course, pay for the bench charge and for the rental battery which is put on the car in the meantime.

Battery manufacturers generally furnish cards to be used in connection with the testing and filling service, such cards being issued to the customers. A punch mark is made every time the battery is brought in, If the owner neglects to come in, this is indicated by the absence of a punch mark, and puts the blame for any trouble caused by this neglect on the owner if any cell shows low gravity, a notation of that fact may be made opposite the punch mark for the date on which the low gravity was observed. If the low gravity is again found the next time the battery is brought in, the battery should be removed and given a bench charge. If the bench charge puts the battery in good shape, and the subsequent gravity readings are high, no trouble is present. If, however, the low gravity readings begin to drop off again, it is probable that new separators are required, especially if the battery is about a year old.

The logical course of events in the testing and filling service is to keep the battery properly filled (at no cost to the customer), give the battery an occasional bench charge (for which the customer pays), reinsulate the battery when it is about a year old (for which the customer pays), and sell the customer a new battery when the old one is worn out. If some trouble develops during the lifetime of the battery which is not due to lack of proper attention, the customer should pay to have the repairs made. From this the battery man will see how the Testing and Filling Service pays. The way to get business is to have people come to your shop. Become acquainted with them, treat them right, and you need not wonder where the money is to come from.


In order to run a repair shop in an orderly, business-like manner, it is necessary to have an efficient system of Service Records. Such a system will protect both the repairman and the customer, and simplify the repairman's bookkeeping. For a small service station a very simple system should be adopted. As the business grows, the service record system must necessarily become more complicated, since each battery will pass through several persons' hands. Battery manufacturers generally furnish service record sheets and cards to their service stations, and the repairman who has a contract with a manufacturer generally adopts them. The manufacturers' service record systems are often somewhat complicated, and require considerable bookkeeping.

For the smaller service station a single sheet or card is most suitable, there being only one for each job, and carbon sheets and copies being unnecessary. Such a service record has three essential parts: (a) The customer's claim check. (b) The battery tag. (c) The record card. Fig. 183 shows a service record card which is suitable for the average repair shop. Part No. I is the customer's claim check, Part No. 2 the battery tag, and part No. 3 the record card, and is 5 inches by 8 inches in size. The overall size of the entire card is 5 inches by 12 inches. Parts I and 2 are torn off along the perforated lines marked (A).

When a battery comes in the three parts are given the same number to identify them when they have been torn apart. The number may be written in the "No." space shown on each part, or the numbers may be stamped on the card. The record should not be made out as soon as a customer comes in, but after the battery has been examined and tested and the necessary work determined. Put the customer's name on parts 2 and 3. Record the address, telephone, etc., in the proper spaces on part 3. Having determined by test and inspection what is to be done, fill out the "WORKCOSTS" table on part 3, putting a check mark in the first column to indicate the work to be done and the material needed. Figure up the cost while the customer waits, if this is possible. Explain the costs to the customer, and have him sign Contract No. 1. If you do this there can never be any argument about the bill you hand the customer later If the customer cannot wait, or if he is well known to you and you know lie will not question your bill, have him sign Contract No. 2. In either case, the terms printed on the back of the card authorize the repairman to make whatever repairs he finds to be necessary, and bind the customer to pay for them. Find out whether the customer will call, whether you are to deliver the battery, or whether you are to ship it, and put a check mark in the proper space at the right of the "WORK-COSTS" table. Mark the battery with the chalk whose color is indicated, and you will know how to dispose of the battery when the repairs are completed.

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